Aug 25 2011 By Lorely Burt MP
AFTER the riots what should we do to prevent this from happening again?
What should we do to tackle the underlying sense of alienation of young people who have trashed their own communities?
This summer is the start of the roll-out of the National Citizenship Service. 10,000 16-year-olds are on the six-week course, the first week doing something physical such as rock climbing, the second at a university campus planning a community project and the rest carrying out that project.
Working in their own communities is giving them an insight into the lives of others, increasing confidence, self-esteem and ability to work as a team.
Could this be possible for every 16 year-old in the country? It would cost £350m which is very difficult to find at the minute, but unless the projects are given the full human and financial investment they need, they could easily backfire.
However, all that said, I think it’s an encouraging start.
Next year the aim is to roll it out to 30,000 youngsters. The cost will be £37m, but if we can spend a billion pounds on 14 Chinook helicopters we should certainly be investing in the human capital of the future.
But the National Citizenship Service can only be a small part of the picture.
For many their problems start at the very beginning of their lives, and by the age of five the die is cast.
That’s why we have put £7bn into tackling these disadvantages right from birth through things like free nursery places and the pupil premium.
And nothing is calculated to give someone a stake in society more than the dignity of a job. It’s really tough for youngsters right now, but we are breaking all records in the creation of apprenticeships; helping employers give youngsters their first taste of work.